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Incentives/Policies for Renewables & Efficiency

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City of Austin - Renewables Portfolio Standard   

Last DSIRE Review: 09/08/2014
Program Overview:
State: Texas
Incentive Type: Renewables Portfolio Standard
Eligible Renewable/Other Technologies: Solar Thermal Electric, Photovoltaics, Landfill Gas, Wind, Biomass, Hydroelectric, Geothermal Electric, Tidal Energy, Wave Energy
Applicable Sectors: Municipal Utility, (Austin Energy)
Standard:50% renewables by 2020
65% renewables by 2025
Technology Minimum:600 MW new utility-scale solar by 2017
200 MW local solar by 2020 (of which 100 MW is customer-controlled)
200 MW fast-response storage by 2024.
Web Site:
Authority 1:
Date Enacted:
Expiration Date:
City Council Resolution No. 990211-36
Authority 2:
Date Enacted:
Expiration Date:
City Council Resolution No. 030925-2
Authority 3:
Date Enacted:
Austin Energy's Ten-Year Strategic Plan
Authority 4:
Date Enacted:
City Council Resolution No. 20070215-023
Authority 5:
Date Enacted:
City Council Approval Vote
Authority 6:
Date Enacted:
City Council Resolution No. 20140410-024
Authority 7:
Date Enacted:
City Council Resolution No. 20140828-157

The City Council of Austin, Texas, first adopted a renewable portfolio standard (RPS) in 1999 (Resolution No. 990211-36). The RPS was subsequently amended several times, with the current RPS goal—65% renewables by 2025—among the most ambitious in the nation.

Eligible Technologies

Renewable resources include those that rely on energy derived directly from the sun, wind, geothermal, hydroelectric, wave or tidal energy, or biomass or biomass-based waste products, including landfill gas.

Goals and Requirements

The RPS for Austin Energy (the City of Austin’s municipal utility) and the city as a whole include the following renewable energy and greenhouse gas emission goals, targets, and standards:

  • 2020: meet 50 percent of all energy needs through the use of renewable resources
  • 2025: meet 65 percent of all energy needs through the use of renewable resources
  • 2030: reduce carbon dioxide emissions from all city-controlled generation resources to zero by 2030
  • 2050: achieve a goal of reaching net zero community-wide greenhouse gas emissions  


In August 2014 the City Council increased the RPS solar carve-out by setting a goal for Austin Energy of 600 megawatts (MW) of new utility-scale solar by 2017 and 200 MW of “local solar” by 2020, of which at least 100 MW is to be customer-controlled (behind the meter) solar.


In August 2014 the City Council directed the City Manager to develop and implement the “policies, procedures, timelines, and targets necessary to make Austin the leading city in the nation in the effort to reduce and reverse the negative impacts of global warming.”

To achieve this vision and the above goals, the City Council specified that the City Manager implement several design enhancements to its solar market. First, Austin Energy’s commercial and residential solar incentive program will be revised to explicitly allow third-party leased system hosts to participate in a commercial and residential incentive program. Second, the Residential Solar Tariff (i.e., the Value of Solar Rate) incentive will be enhanced in the following ways:

  • allow excess credits to be rolled over from year to year (instead of being reset at zero at the start of a calendar year),
  • allow solar energy systems of any size to be eligible for the Residential Solar Tariff by removing the existing 20 kW cap,
  • set an annual price floor equal to the residential electric rates of a “tier 3 customer” (i.e., $0.091 per kilowatt-hour for the rates approved September 2013),
  • allow leased system hosts to receive value of solar credits, and
  • adopt a 5-year rolling average in calculating the annual assessment.

Third, the City Manager will develop a comprehensive strategy for the deployment and use of distribution-level and transmission-level storage technologies with a target of 200 MW of fast response storage by 2024.

Among its other initiatives designed to promote renewable energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the Austin City Council has also adopted the mayor's Climate Protection Plan (Resolution 20070215-023), set a green power procurement goal of powering municipal buildings and facilities using 100% renewable energy by 2012, and implemented advanced building codes to maximize energy efficiency.

Cost Mitigation Measures

Notably, Austin’s Affordability Goal (set in 2011 and reaffirmed in August 2014) calls for rate increases to residential, commercial, and industrial Austin Energy customers to not exceed 2% per year, with a goal of maintaining Austin Energy’s rates in the lower 50 percent of Texas rates overall.

  Pat Sweeney
Austin Energy
721 Barton Springs
Austin, TX 78704-1194
Phone: (512) 322-6292
Web Site:
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Disclaimer: The information presented on the DSIRE web site provides an unofficial overview of financial incentives and other policies. It does not constitute professional tax advice or other professional financial guidance, and it should not be used as the only source of information when making purchasing decisions, investment decisions or tax decisions, or when executing other binding agreements. Please refer to the individual contact provided below each summary to verify that a specific financial incentive or other policy applies to your project.

While the DSIRE staff strives to provide the best information possible, the DSIRE staff, the N.C. Solar Center, N.C. State University and the Interstate Renewable Energy Council, Inc. make no representations or warranties, either express or implied, concerning the accuracy, completeness, reliability or suitability of the information. The DSIRE staff, the N.C. Solar Center, N.C. State University and the Interstate Renewable Energy Council, Inc. disclaim all liability of any kind arising out of your use or misuse of the information contained or referenced on DSIRE Web pages.

Copyright 2014 - 2015 North Carolina State University, under NREL Subcontract No. XEU-0-99515-01. Permission granted only for personal or educational use, or for use by or on behalf of the U.S. government. North Carolina State University prohibits the unauthorized display, reproduction, sale, and/or distribution of all or portions of the content of the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE) without prior, written consent.